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Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914

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Introduction

Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914 There were several reasons that women did not gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914, both long-term and short-term. Long-term reasons include the opinion many people held at the time that women and men had 'separate spheres'. They believed that women belonged in the private sphere- in charge of bringing up children, cooking etc and men should be in the public sphere- work, politics etc. Henry Labouchere said "I shall break down all attempts to break down the barrier which nature has placed between men and women" because these roles were thought to have been ordained by God and couldn't be changed. Some people also thought that contributing to the community allowed women to be active citizens, but they did not need to vote in national elections. Another argument was that women were less intelligent than men and had no logical power and so it would be unwise to give them the vote. ...read more.

Middle

They said that the suffragettes were only a small fraction of women so 'normal' women were happy with things as they were; whereas suffragettes were simply mad, hysterical spinsters. Also, some people were convinced that women did not deserve to vote because they could not fight or defend their country. Their view was that people earned the right to vote by being willing to defend their nation. There was also a worry that giving women the vote would result in the decline of Britain's place in the world as women might not want Britain to fight wars. The attitudes of the government obviously had a huge effect on the success of women's suffrage. In 1900 the conservative government was in power and they believed in the 'separate spheres' theory and therefore didn't want women to vote. The existing political system in Britain worked well at the time so the conservatives did not want to risk the stability of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their violence gave the government a reason not to allow women the vote and, even when the government had been close to agreeing to votes for women, they couldn't give in. The suffragettes' brutality even turned away their own supporters because some women wanted to turn away from violent behaviour. This obviously undermined the efficiency and impacts of the WSPU. Their violent methods also turned moderate men against the idea of women suffrage as they gave them a negative perspective of women. To conclude, the combination of these long-term and short-term causes meant that women were not given the vote between 1900 and 1914. The suffragettes' violence supported the view that women were hysterical and temperamentally unsuited to politics. The fact that women were turning away from WSPU also made it look as if these women no longer wanted the vote, and therefore gave evidence to the view-point that most women didn't want the vote. It made it seem as if these women were no longer interested enough in politics and the public sphere- which gave proof to the idea of 'separate spheres'. ...read more.

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